It is rainy and windy today, not really a surprise around here! It is the perfect day to spend time baking in the kitchen and I wanted to try a few more shaping techniques from the Craftsy class that I reviewed here. I used the same recipe and, once again the dough came together nicely, and was allowed to double in size.


The dough was portioned slightly differently as I wanted to make three different shapes.


The six smaller portions on the left were to be made into small, Dutch crunch rolls, the larger were earmarked for 4 telera rolls and 4 double knots

I was on my own today and did not have help to make a video like the last post, so I will try to describe the shaping process for each roll.


The six rolls at the top were made by flattening the dough portion and each corner folded into the center to form a loose ball. The ball was placed, seam side on the counter and rolled to form a denser ball, with tension, to form the tight surface. The four at the bottom of the pan were shaped the same way but then two deep indentations were made to form the telera pattern. It should look like this when baked:

telera roll


The four in the middle were rolled as was shown in the video I made previously, but the long log was then tied in the middle, like a single knot, then the ends were tucked in the hole in the middle. This is the double knot shape.

The six small rolls were supposed to have the Dutch crunch topping but, turns out I did not have the rice flour that I thought I had! So, they were egg washed and sprinkled with sanding sugar, the double knots were also egg washed, the telera were left with just the flour for a more rustic look. All were baked at 350°F for 20 minutes.


The indentations in the telera rolls proofed away! They look like potato rolls instead. I think the tender sweet dough was too soft to hold up to the shape of the telera roll. I may have to try again with a firmer dinner roll recipe.

The double knots and small round rolls held their shape better, all three were delicious!





In an attempt to believe spring is actually here, I made an Easter bread basket.




Up next, Hot cross buns for Easter Weekend!



ON THE RISE: An online baking course from Craftsy

bread class

I enjoyed the food photography class that I took through Craftsy so much that I decided to check out a couple of their online baking technique offerings. I chose “on the rise: bun & roll techniques” because, even though I did take several bread classes in culinary school, I have found that each chef will have their own technique and style. No two chefs will teach the exact same processes of shaping a boule or baguette. I often struggled in those classes to find the right techniques for myself to be able to mass produce rolls or loaves that were consistent. I eventually found what worked for me but the answer rarely came from one person, picture or video. So, I continue to search for new ideas and hints that will help me create and learn. Chef Jeff Yankellow was an excellent teacher in this series and I was pleased with the variety of dough types, rolls and buns that were presented here. If you are new to bread baking, or intimidated a little by the process, I would highly recommend this course as the chef spends time explaining the purpose of each ingredient and how they will impart texture and/or flavor to the products. If you already know quite a bit about artisan bread making then you will still be able to pick up some ideas and handy tips.

The chef began by making a straight forward soft dinner roll recipe which provided an opportunity to practice mixing, kneading and shaping rolls. He moved onto a sweet roll dough that could be used to make braided rolls, monkey bread, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. Recipes for whole wheat rolls, rustic hard rolls and sweet glazes were also covered. I had a tough time deciding where I wanted to begin but ultimately opted to make single strand braided rolls using the tender sweet dough recipe. I am glad I did!


I began by adding 2 cups of AP flour (withholding the final 1 cup for incorporation during the kneading process), 1/4 cup sugar, 2 T dry milk powder, 2 t instant yeast & 1 t salt into a large bowl.


Then the egg, butter and vanilla were incorporated. I chose to use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract as I wanted a more concentrated flavor and I like the look of the specks of vanilla bean in the final rolls.


This came together quickly to form a shaggy dough that I then turned out onto the counter, using some of the reserved flour as needed. The goal was to achieve a smooth ball that was soft and pliable but not sticky. I did not use the full volume of reserve flour, as it was not required under the conditions that day.

The dough was covered and allowed to double in volume, which took one hour in my cold kitchen.

The dough was degassed and shaped in a long cylinder, then divided into twelve (even?) portions.


Each portion was rolled out into another cylinder form and braided. I did get the video working for the braiding process. Sorry it is not quite what I was hoping for but next time I will ask my daughter to get a better angle!



These rolls were allowed to proof for another 45 minutes and then egg washed. The rolls were baked at 350°F for 20 minutes.



Notice the vanilla specks!


These were delicious! Even the ones that did not look so pretty! My son suggested that I make “that butter” to serve with them. “That butter” is a cinnamon butter that I made with the pumpkin rolls, and he was right, the rolls were even better!


I hope you give this class a try, you won’t regret it! Next up, Dutch crunch rolls, Yum!



Food Photography: An online course from Craftsy


At the beginning of the year I stated that I wanted to improve my photography skills, meaning I wanted to actually have some! I began to use my extremely old digital camera instead of my cell phone camera and signed up for Blogging University, which was offered through WordPress. The assignments were great for me as they got me thinking more about framing my shots and photographic composition in general. Since the class was through WordPress it also acted as a guide and informed me about some of the features supported by this platform. In short, I learned quite a bit about the operation of my camera and the (very) basics of photo editing. My husband then surprised my with a new Canon DSLR camera for Valentine’s Day. Now there is so much more to learn!

My new camera has infinitely more ability and intricacies. I have been using it on our travels and have seen a huge improvement in my photography, in general. My posts about the Hearst castle and the Botanical Garden in Arizona are some examples from my new camera.  I love the quality of the pictures but am now more aware of my lack of knowledge about photography as a whole. So, to start my new, much longer and steeper learning curve off right, I decided to take more classes. I have identified two major issues for myself. The first is understanding the camera’s features and using the ISO, F -stop and manual focus abilities correctly. I feel that I need an actual hands on class with an expert for the proper instruction, so I have enrolled in a digital photography class which will begin next month. The second concern which I would like to improve upon is in the specific context of food photography. Craftsy.com is a great resource for recipes, online shopping and online classes. I have purchased several of their courses in the past and have always been happy with the information they have provided. The specific class I viewed this time was Food Photography, from plate to photo with Andrew Scrivani. There were seven lessons each focusing on a different aspect from how the camera functions, to lighting, and finally food styling.

Lighting is a tough tackle for me. My kitchen is beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing but  there are overhead, strong lights and the granite counters are shinny, as are the stainless steel appliances. There are a lot of reflective surfaces that do not lend themselves to great pictures, so I made a few purchases to help redirect the light. The instructor advised using a black background to absorb light and white, or silver surfaces to remove shadows, or create ones where they are needed. I also purchased a light diffuser to help with the direct, east facing daylight that enters from the right of the photo below.


I also bought a few clamps to hold up the boards


When it came to the food styling portion of the class, I found that there were many ideas that I could incorporate in my “emerging” style. I really liked Scrivani’s style as well and found that I was drawn to many of the natural elements he presented. My current collection though is too shiny or reflective for the camera, so I took inventory and bought a few items as well.


I like these fabrics and hope they will keep the shin down on my counters. The wood palettes are in keeping with my other natural elements

I then turned my eye to plates, glasses and any other items I thought I might want to incorporate in the future.


I was trying to get a mix of colors, but remain in the muted tones. The glasses I found at Value Village and remind me of the ones my grandmother had when I was young.

I tried to take a couple different angles, to see how the light played off of all the pieces.


3/4 light from the right side


This is the top view with the light perpendicular from the right.

Overall, I am please with these pieces and found the information from the Craftsy class extremely helpful. Tomorrow I will see how it all fits together with an actual recipe. I will be making the cinnamon roll cookies from Sally’s bake along challenge, wish me luck!